THE SHOCK OF SILENCE

11.08.17
Sergei Babayan
Stuttgarter Zeitung

Translated from German

"Babayan's transcriptions emphasize the bloody violence dominating Shakespeare's original drama. The harshness of dissonances, which is so characteristic of Prokofiev's harmonic work, but is softened by the instrumental bandwidth of the symphonic original, gets concentrated in the piano chord and, thus, laid bare in the most merciless fashion. Bruitist, noisy, tumultuous, percussive is this music. The silence between the movements comes almost as a shock. As a result, calmer pieces such as the delicate, wittily played 'Gavotte' appear even lighter and more delicate. ... At the end, Prokofiev power, now in the form of Babayan's transscriptions of his film music, forces the audience to jump to standing ovations. But before this, the two of them play Mozart's Sonata K.448 with an intimate devotion that is deeply moving. Time seems to stand still. Sparkling runs, trills, melodies softly merge. One barely distinguishes who plays what. Such miracles of musical togetherness and virtuoso synchronality are again shown in the encore from Rachmaninov's Suite No. 1 Op. 15; burbling arabesque harmonies, quicksilver runs, all light and fluffy like cotton candy, flowing and sparkling like champaign."